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The underwriting advantage

Advisers can adjust their underwriting process to establish a major point of differentiation and open the door wide for referrals.

In today’s climate where cleanskins are the exception to the rule rather than the norm, I believe there are two key areas in which advisers can establish points of differentiation and, thereby, create a quality experience for their clients. These areas:

1) Pre-empting underwriting red flags and managing clients’ expectations. Having always worked on a commission-only basis as an adviser, I was always on a mission to minimise the occasions in which I did work for a client where business did not eventuate, so it was really important to flush out any potential underwriting issues right up front and before I prepare any recommendations for a client.

To this end, I would ask the client before the end of the first interview if they had any illness other than a common cold, any injury other than a broken bone and whether they were today or ever had been on any prescription medicine. As you can see, I was throwing out as big a potential net as possible and if anything was captured that could possibly represent a red flag for the underwriter, I would paint the worst-case scenario. For example, “Given that information, be assured that I will do everything I can to get the standard rate for your medical condition/height and weight (so important they don’t think they are getting ‘alternate terms’), but I can’t guarantee that I will be able to get you any cover at all.”

Preparing your client for the worst-case scenario means that, if they are offered an exclusion or a loading, you can get back to them with, “Great news. I can get you some cover. Obviously, it is going to cost you more or it’s not going to cover you for your pre-existing condition, but we can cover you for everything else. Isn’t that great?”   

2) Being proactive during the underwriting process. Hopefully, you have confirmed with your client at the point of sale that they would prefer that the underwriting process is quick and pain free rather than drawn out and painful, and therefore you have committed to doing everything you can to accelerate and facilitate the process, which will involve being proactive in the following ways:

  • Keep abreast of the underwriting status and keep your client informed on a regular basis;
  • Liaise with your chosen pathology service regarding medical appointments;
  • Remind your client of medical appointments the day before the appointment;
  • Call you client the day after their medical appointment to make sure it went OK;
  • Chase up PMARs yourself and keep your client in the loop, getting them involved where necessary; and
  • Contact your client at least twice during underwriting on a totally non-business related basis. This will cement and add layers to your relationship with your client.

By fulfilling these roles in the underwriting process, you will move from completing a transaction for a policyholder to creating a quality experience for a client and this will open the door wide for referrals.

Chris Unwin is founder and chief executive of Chris Unwin Training & Consulting Services

The underwriting advantage
chris unwin
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